Shakhtar's stadium damaged by shelling in Donetsk

AP News
Posted: Aug 23, 2014 11:39 AM

DONETSK, Ukraine (AP) — Ukrainian soccer champion Shakhtar Donetsk's stadium was damaged by shelling Saturday during the conflict between government troops and pro-Russian separatists.

Club chief executive Sergei Palkin said two shells struck the stadium complex early Saturday morning, one damaging the arena itself and another striking its electricity substation.

Shakhtar published photos showing debris strewn around an entrance to the stadium, but said there were "no casualties among the stadium staff."

The 52,667-capacity Donbass Arena was a venue for the 2012 European championship in Poland and Ukraine and has hosted teams including Manchester United and Barcelona for Champions League games.

Shakhtar's home city of Donetsk is the largest city controlled by pro-Russian rebels, and fighting in the area has become more intense in recent weeks.

Shakhtar is playing its home games this season in the western Ukrainian city of Lviv due to the conflict. That will include Champions League games when the group stage begins next month.

Shakhtar is owned by billionaire Rinat Akhmetov, whose metals industry companies employ thousands in the Donetsk area and who paid for the Donbass Arena to be built.

Akhmetov has publicly opposed the separatists and called for both sides in the conflict to refrain from bombing Donetsk.

In May, Donetsk's ice hockey arena was looted and burned. The club that plays there, Donbass Donetsk, blamed the attack on pro-Russian separatists.

Last month, Ukrainian Premier League club Zorya Luhansk's stadium was hit by mortar fire which smashed seats and left a crater in its field. No injuries were reported following the attack, which took place in the city of Luhansk, a separatist stronghold.

Shakhtar is top of the Ukrainian league after four games.